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The NA 250 lollipop

NA 250. A hot national assembly seat; so declared before elections and even further so, after rigged elections. A constituency where stalwarts such as Khushbakht Shujaat, Naimatullah Khan and Arif Alvi were contesting.

Let’s cut to the chase. As most of you know, ECP had called for re-polling in 43 stations of NA 250 on the 19th of May. The polls were conducted and even after a low turnout, Arif Alvi has won the seat. For PTI fans, I suppose this is good news.

I stand against it. I can’t imagine why PTI supporters are pleased at this. From what` I understand from all of this is, they went on the roads asking for the main course, and they are settling for peanuts. I am not so sure a battle based on principles (at least that is what Arif Alvi and Ali Zaidi have reminded us again and again) can be settled for something so substantially less as a single constituency; a far cry from the re-elections demanded in all 20 constituencies of Karachi.

I fear PTI has took the bait. By accepting re-polls in NA 250, you have placed the quest for Karachi re-elections in jeopardy. We have seen how ECP has given scant attention to the demand for re-elections. Do you really think it is likely to give more favors after giving NA 250 a chance? Also, PTI is overestimating its supporters. For how long can their supporters maintain the same enthusiasm and fervour in continuing the re-elections demand in Karachi, when majority of their supporters have voted in NA 250?

Often, the success of a movement depends on the degree of agitation of the people. Till the mob is kept agitated, a movement will live. Grant it a little breathing space, a certain degree of relief, and it is very likely that the small dose of happiness will eradicate the very agitation that led Karachi to come out on the streets. Is PTI sure it can continue its quest for Karachi re-elections when it has already acheived a soul-satisfying victory in NA 250? That is the biggest challenge for PTI, and at such a crucial juncture, when things are in their favour, may be they should have avoided putting this theory to the test.

As it is now, MQM has boycotted the re-polls and already acheived moral high ground. What’s to stop history from recording NA 250 re-polls, if Karachi re-election movement fails, as a protest of the affluent? Does PTI think some months from now, MQM, ECP and the media will not remind them of the fact that the affluent society of Defence and Clifton settled down after getting their desired constituency? Does PTI think the relevant stakeholders will not degrade the Karachi re-elections movement from a matter of principle, to a matter of a single constituency?

Perhaps the coming days will tell better of how PTI’s stance changes. Perhaps the protests will still continue with the same force. Perhaps the ECP, MQM and the media will crucify PTI for choosing NA 250. Perhaps I will be wrong. I certainly hope so.

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The battle for Karachi – a fight for our rights!

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Contrary to popular belief, General Elections were held in Karachi too. Well, atleast one party says so. The others claim that elections were never held in Karachi. And by God, we the citizens of Karachi, bear witness to it.

The people of Karachi were misguided to think their vote actually meant something. They were misguided to think if they step out of their homes to do what they can for change, somebody is actually going to care. The state, the judiciary, the media, all seem impervious to the state of Karachi and the strong resentment that Karachiites are filled with, against the rigging.

Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the two large parties after MQM in Karachi, have taken the mantle for demanding re-elections in Karachi. And public sentiments are with them. Infact, perhaps that is the reason why no one is interested. Perhaps if a militia-backed party had violated Karachi streets in protests, the way they did on Election Day, Pakistan and its stakeholders would have been interested.

The bottom line is this : Karachi revolted. The vote bank of MQM is shifting. These elections were a chance for Karachi to let parties know they cannot terorrise and rule over them much longer. Their electoral revolt however, was cruelly stifled and killed. The powers in government / establishment it seems, don’t really care about Karachi. We have been handed back to the rule of tyranny. It seems Karachi has not shed enough tears, has not lost enough blood.

Even though Karachi contributes massively to Pakistan’s economy, and continues to display unflinching resilience in their daily lives, it seems the people of Karachi have been assigned to the dustbins of Pakistan’s national matters. Are just and fair elections really too much to ask? Is it too much to ask of the media to give fair coverage to the undeniable expression of truth on the streets of Karachi that the elections were massively and shamefully rigged, and that the current results DO NOT represent the mandate of the people?

A lot of pseudo-intellectuals have done nothing but expressed dissent over the protests, mocking it as unruly behaviour and a means to disturb the stability of Karachi. How stable exactly, is Karachi in its current state may I ask? How safe is it for a citizen to roam on the streets? How safe is it for someone to question illegal protection money, and the use of force to effect acquiescence?

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Why does the protests of JI and PTI irk you so much? Which of their demands does not seem reasonable? Why has fighting for your rights become such a degradable concept? Did the people who mock us really think change would come without any agitation? Did you have in mind that people were going to smile and accept the absolute thuggery displayed on the polling stations? The whole city witnessed first hand the hi-jacking of polling stations, the by-force ballot paper stamping, the stamps without ID cards, the screening of pro-MQM voters and the theft of polling rights of the people who weren’t. What, did the people mocking the protests think no one is going to revolt?

Loopholes in ECP preparations were already made before elections. JI most of all, had repeatedly highlighted the pre-polls manipulation being orchestrated in Karachi. JI’s decision to boycott elections, questioned by many, has now proved right. MQM is pushing to grant re-elections only in NA 250, the seat where PTI made its stand by not boycotting. However, PTI stance has to be respected. These political games are new to them and Karachi is a deadly game. Keeping that in mind, PTI has responded admirably and courageously, led by Arif Alvi. He has emerged as a fine leader in the wake of Imran Khan’s injury. He has connected with the people and given Karachi a new voice. People may degrade this as a burger movement, but it is far from it. It seems people have wanted to stand against Muttehda’s domination for years and now they have got a voice they feel proudly affiliated with.

It is very disturbing to see that in crunch time, the very torchbearers of democracy and freedom are questioning Karachi’s right to exercise their freedom of choice. All those expressing dissent at Karachi protests, know that if we succeed, you will go down in the footnotes of history as people who indirectly backed oppression and the bullying of Karachi citizens.

Re-elections in Karachi are not important only for the number of seats to be gained. They are important because it is Karachi’s right to choose fairly. Even if MQM wins and they probably will, re-elections are called for in the belief that the results will show the true representation of the political parties involved.

Victories of nearly 200,000 votes affected through rigging are an effective method to stifle hope in Karachiites. Victory by small margins on the other hand, will give Karachi hope. And by God, if fair elections are held, Karachi will prove just how close they have come to ousting corrupt parties from power in Karachi.

PTI Shahra-e-Faisal Dharna - joined by Dr. Merajul Huda JI

PTI Shahra-e-Faisal Dharna – joined by Dr. Merajul Huda JI

The people of Karachi, quite frankly, are frustrated. They are tired. I was there at Shahra-e-Faisal, people are ready to stand for something. That is an acheivement. They are tired of being mugged, tired of being killed, tired of being held hostage to the whims of non-representative political clashes. Most importantly, people find it impossible to wait for another five years for justice. For if they back down now, who can guarantee the next General Elections will not be rigged?

Muttehda, through media statements in the last three days have shown Karachi how they have alienated the people of Karachi from rest of Pakistan. Terming the protests burger, and a clash of classes, is the rhetoric they have used to maintain the safety of its voters. These are bold statements, when you consider Sardar Nabeel Gabol’s transformation into Nabeel Gabol Bhai. Today, we are nothing. Just heartbroken citizens of Karachi. Our city remains hi-jacked.

This is a call from a wronged Karachiite. Keep the protests going! Day 4 – PTI and JI keep the anti-rigging protests ALIVE.

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